Taking the Next Steps

Read about Mike’s reflection of how Energy Corps has impacted his life:

How has Energy Corps help you become a stronger environmental steward, and prepared you for your next steps?

“Energy Corps has been a great learning experience that has given us the tools to make careers fighting for a cleaner energy future, environmental sustainability, and societal equity.” – Bill Pederson

“I think Energy Corps was great because it throws you right into the thick of it – there’s a lot you’re not prepared for but you learn a lot really quickly and I’m really grateful for the support structure that helped me make the most of the experience” – Matthew Wilk

“Among other (more significant) things, my experience with EC has fundamentally changed my thought process as I approach the door to a home. Instead of being distracted by the real reason I’m at someone’s house, I now examine whether or not the door could use some weather stripping or a door sweep, if the windows need to be fully replaced or just need some caulking, and what the inside is likely to look and smell like. This is never going to change and I will always be confused and appear to be a giant simpleton when someone opens said door.” – Eileen Munsch

Mike applying window plastic

Mike applying window plastic

Personally, I feel that I have learned more in this year of service than my other eight years of work experience combined.  Maybe it is the fact that I have been introduced to an entirely new environment that involves time in the office, as well as time on the farm (neither of which I have worked in/on before).  Maybe it is because I haven’t found my previous work experience very engaging, or challenging, as this year has been.  Or maybe, it is the wealth of knowledge that comes from the extremely helpful staff here at the National Center for Appropriate Technology.  This year has been crucial in helping me grow as a young professional.

Not only did Energy Corps and NCAT allow me to apply what I learned in school to real world applications, but they also gave me the opportunity to gains skills and experience in areas such as: agriculture, construction, weatherization, community organizing, energy audits, public speaking, and networking.  One other very important skill I have gained is the ability to work well as a team.  Whether it be growing tomatoes, building a kiln, weatherizing a home, building a fence, creating mosaics, or organizing community events, I think it is very important to find what each member’s strengths are and really capitalize on them.  To become cohesive and build a strong team dynamic, I think it is also important for each member to recognize their own strengths and provide insight to other members who may be lacking in that particular area.  This skill, more than anything, has prepared me for the step I am about to take.

Mike with community members picking up fire bricks for the kiln

Mike with community members picking up fire bricks for the kiln

I have committed myself to another year of service, this time as a Team Leader for AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA.  My responsibilities will include supervising, motivating, directing, and coordinating a team of young adults in a structured program of service, education, and training; it will also be my responsibility to develop positive team morale.  I will, to the best of my ability, lead by example and try to be a positive role model for everyone on the team.  One year ago, I was probably not ready for this type of responsibility, but after my Energy Corps experience, I believe it will be an easy transition.

In the beginning, I felt very hesitant to move from North Carolina to Montana for service, but I am so glad I took the leap of faith.  Overall, Energy Corps have been a very meaningful experience for me, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I was given the opportunity to learn about a new community, share an office with an excellent mentor, and make new friends that I will never forget.  I am very excited for the next chapter of getting things done for America!  “I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond” and continue to serve beyond AmeriCorps.

Energy Corps members at Helena's Green Drinks event for Earth Day

Energy Corps members at Helena’s Green Drinks event for Earth Day

member_mike_danielMichael Daniel has a bachelor’s degree in appropriate technology from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He has experience in building greenhouses and working at a wind power demonstration site on Beech Mountain, NC. During his Energy Corps term, Mike developed a biochar kiln on the NCAT demonstration farm in addition to providing renewable energy education to local schools. His project consisted of researching, designing, and completing a prototype of a biochar kiln.

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